Tourism businesses remain concerned about inconsistent pricing and lack of a reliable nighttime service from taxis.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association is also asking government to “revisit” the policy of allowing drivers to charge an additional 20 percent per passenger when there are more than three people in the cab.
Concerns over pricing were raised in 2016, when several restaurant owners complained that customers were being charged wildly different fares for the same routes.
Theresa Broderick, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, said the organization was in ongoing discussions with government over a solution but remained concerned about fare transparency and service reliability.
Durk Banks, director of the Public Transport Unit, said it has not yet decided whether to introduce meters or a smartphone app to monitor fares.
The unit has published fare tables to and from some major destinations and set up a hotline for complaints in an effort to alleviate concerns from businesses.
Deloitte was commissioned early last year to review the pricing structure in the industry and that process is still ongoing, according to Mr. Banks. Restaurant owner Markus Mueri said he believed the level of taxi service and the quality of the fleet were among the best in the Caribbean. But he said a few rogue drivers gave the rest a bad name.
He is hopeful that new technology – potentially a smartphone app – will soon be introduced to help improve transparency and end disputes over pricing.
“The million-dollar question is how do we charge for a route? Yes, we are late to the game, but meters, they are the past; new technology with smartphones and apps is the future,” he said.
Ms. Broderick said the tourism association was pleased with the level of industry consultation during Deloitte’s taxi fare scheme review.
She also praised the Public Transport Unit for setting up a hotline to report issues and incidents and urged passengers to use it to give feedback on the industry.
But she said the Cayman Islands Tourism Association remained concerned that the surcharge for additional passengers – something that is believed to be unique to Cayman – is inequitable and “negatively perceived” by visitors.
The association has also raised concerns about a lack of taxi service during the evening hours and is asking for a published list of drivers licensed to operate during that time.
“We understand that drivers are licensed to provide service during particular time periods of the day and evening but many perhaps are not adhering to such a service-level agreement,” she added.
Ms. Broderick said the association was actively encouraging taxi associations and companies to join its organization and have a greater voice in the discussions.
She added, “The taxi service and our visitors’ interaction with our taxi drivers remain an important and valued aspect of the visitor experience and we simply have to get it right.”
Mr. Banks said the Deloitte review, once complete, would be presented to all stakeholders.
In the meantime, he said fare tables had been made available through the tourism association and would soon be published on the Department of Tourism website.
“The Public Transport Board is committed to transparency regarding taxi fares,” he added.
To report concerns or issues about taxis, call 946-1323 or email [email protected]